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Pulitzer Book Club Inclusion Guide


“The Keepers of the House” by Shirley Grau.



• Prior’s first Ed Sullivan show
• Selma to Montgomery March
• Supreme Court ends state and local contraception laws
• Medicare and Medicaid for disabilities and low-income



Grau grew up in Montgomery. She became a writer when Tulane wouldn’t accept her as graduate student and the English chair’s response to her interest in becoming a teaching assistant was “There will be no females in the English Department.” The KKK burned a cross on Grau’s lawn after “The Keepers of the House” was published.


Featured Reader Wanted!

Featured Reader

– Share your key take-away about inclusion in this book in a sentence or two.
– Write a paragraph or two (up to 250 words) to describe your thoughts on exclusion/inclusion in the book, why you related or did not connect with the book, and why you think reading, inclusion and dialog about inclusion matter.
– Identify the name and website address of a cause you support with an inclusive mission.


Three generations respond to racial prejudice in their Alabama town


Rich guy meets love of his life after hunting for a moonshine still in a swamp.


Grau’s response to the Pulitzer Committee’s call: “I was awfully short-tempered that morning because I’d been up all night with one of my children. I thought his voice was so familiar and I had at the time a very amusing friend who was a ghastly practical joker, and I thought I recognized his voice … So, I said to the voice I mistook, ‘yeah and I’m the Queen of England too,’ and I hung up on him.”


Relatively short at 320 pages or 9+ listening hours.


Understand your family tree. Reflect on recent generations through an inclusion lens. Think all the way back to your original ancestors, who are everybody’s ancestors.


Banishment to protect mixed race children; bigoted, outrageous political about differences in brains based on race; violent response to interracial marriage.


Serve what you eat in the swamp on en route to meet the love of your life: barley candy, sour apples, almost rancid bacon, a can of beans. Wash it down with swamp water and bootleg whiskey.


“That’s the way it is with me. I don’t just see things as they are today. I see them as they were. I see them all around in all time. And this is bad. Because it makes you think you know a place. Because it makes you think you know the people in it."


Grand old house with a Southern vibe where many generations have lived.


Who were the Free Jack’s?
The Selma to Montgomery March happened in 1965, the year Grau won the Pulitzer. Thirty-five years later, in 2000, Alabama was the last state to overturn its ban on interracial marriage. How do the characters in the novel respond to interracial marriage and mixed race children? Where is America today in terms of inclusion of interracial relationships and people of mixed race? What and how long will it take to end racial prejudice?
How did the Howell children respond to each other during childhood? After Margaret’s death?
How did Margaret and William’s children feel about their heritage and upbringing as children and as adults, and why did they feel that way? Discuss baby caps that did not have the three tiny ribbon bows stitched on them to signify your place in life.
Your insights into Margaret and into William and Margaret’s relationship.
Compare John to a contemporary politician from the perspective of diversity, equality and inclusion. Be sure to discuss the outrageous remarks John made during his speech to the White Citizens Counsel.
Compare the role of the media in the novel to the influences of social media on racism and inclusion today.
Describe situations in the novel when characters showed bravery and when and how people expressed hate. When did people pursue action that they perceived as a necessity and what were their alternatives?
What would you have done at the close of the novel if you were Keeper of the House?


Take the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail. While you’re in Selma, visit the National Voting Rights Museum and Institute and Museum of Slavery and Civil Rights. Find a distillery tour.


No film or TV adaptation found.


1994 “Roadwalkers” and 1996 “House on Coliseum Street”

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